Last month So Much Great Music posted its Greatest Opening Guitar Riffs Ever, a Top 10 list that actually contained no fewer than 50 entries (plus dozens more in other side categories), and it apparently piqued some significant interest because its quickly become one of our most-read pieces to date. Predictably, however, even with that many songs accounted for, it also generated a fair amount of feedback on what still wasn’t included. And the thing is, there were some truly fantastic suggestions, many of which I’m frankly horrified to have left out. Plus I also thought of numerous others myself that absolutely should’ve been covered, which bothered me at least as much.
So what the hell, let’s fix that, with a follow-up list of More Great Opening Guitar Riffs (which I’ll limit to just 20 more – but please be reasonable, it’s really tough).
First, this would be a good time for a review of our original list, which you can find right here.
And with that, a refresher on the three basic ground rules we instituted, which were, in short:
- It must be strictly an opening riff
- Electric guitar riffs only
- Only one selection per band (and this proved the thorniest one)
Thus, knowing what songs (and by what bands) were previously selected would be quite helpful. But in case it feels like too much to go through it all – don’t worry, I’m going to break some of my own rules anyway.
A few random notes:
- For starters, ‘Cinnamon Girl’ by Neil Young, which was pointed out by one astute reader as her favorite opening ever. To which I say – of course! Phenomenal choice, an absolute Top 10 for me, possibly Top 5. But alas, there’s a modern technicality: Mr. Young remains steadfast fighting his righteous fight against Spotify, thereby Ol’ Neil took down his entire catalog in protest. Well I hope Neil Young will remember…that means I can’t include it on a Spotify playlist. And thus it remains an omission with an asterisk.
- In the prior Top 50 post we also covered 25 exceptional “opening” riff candidates except that the guitar riffs weren’t actually the very opening. A lot of very close calls and painful exclusions resulted (think ‘Black Dog,’ ‘More Than A Feeling,’ ‘Funk #49,’ and ‘Money For Nothing’ to name but a few). I’m not going to revisit the past – even though that’s exactly what I’m doing – but as a protest against myself and my own persnickety rules, here we’ll offer one outstanding but not-quite-exactly-the-opening riff (clue: it’s track #19, and includes a quick 8-beat drum fill to start…so hoochie koo to persnickety).
- I’d love to change the rules. Instead, as a symbolic gesture for the scores of amazing unplugged guitar riffs which couldn’t be considered, I’m hereby going to include ‘I’d Love to Change the World,’ a consummate acoustic riff entry by Alvin Lee of Ten Years After (which does eventually lead to some vintage electric guitar wailing). Maybe Alvin used an electric-acoustic.
The primary source of controversy was over the self-imposed restriction of only one song per band – my main thought being, otherwise we could practically fill-up a whole list with scarcely more than Beatles, Zeppelin, the Stones, CCR, and AC/DC. Where’s ‘Drive My Car’ or ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’? (we went with ‘Day Tripper’). How could you not have ‘Brown Sugar’?! (because, spoiler alert, ‘Satisfaction’ topped the list). You get the idea. Well, as Tom Cruise eventually learned in Risky Business, sometimes you do have to say “what the fuck.” So, for that reason, and no particularly other good one, this follow-up group of songs will welcome repeat entries (from among those on the original Top 50) for six bands/acts: Rolling Stones, U2, ZZ Top, REM, Lenny Kravitz and David Bowie. WTF.
Alright then, here it is, the next 20 more – oh shit, I ended up with 30 – Great Opening Guitar Riffs. First listed below, and then on the accompanying new playlist that follows.
**and as I cautioned previously, I’d have to insist that you log-in to Spotify in order to properly hear the song beginnings, rather than the random middle that’s played in preview mode (if you want, after the first few seconds or so you can skip ahead to the next track; that’s understandable only for this exercise)**
- 20th Century Boy – T. Rex
- No Matter What – Badfinger
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – Rolling Stones
- Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
- Do You Feel Like We Do – Peter Frampton
- Philby – Rory Gallagher
- Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters
- I Ain’t Superstitious – Jeff Beck
- Last Train to Clarksville – The Monkees
- Don’t Want You No More – Allman Brothers
- Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Made Up Mind – Tedeschi Trucks Band
- I Will Follow – U2
- I Can Only Give You Everything – Them (feat. Van Morrison)
- Kicks – Paul Revere & The Raiders
- Driver 8 – R.E.M.
- Heard It on the X – ZZ Top
- Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane
- Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo – Rick Derringer
- Twice As Hard – Black Crowes
- Peace Frog – The Doors
- Flying Saucers Rock & Roll – Robert Gordon (with Link Wray)
- Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
- 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
- How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths
- I’d Love to Change the World – Ten Years After
- The Man Who Sold the World – David Bowie
- Hocus Pocus – Focus
- Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
- I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home – Grand Funk Railroad
***And see the original Top 50 List, The Greatest Opening Guitar Riffs Ever here***